Sunday 23 October 2016

A Leinster short on power will lean on twin peaks Sexton and Nacewa

Published 15/11/2015 | 02:30

Johnny Sexton: Huge influence for Leinster
Johnny Sexton: Huge influence for Leinster

If the extra-time defeat by Toulon in the Champions Cup semis last season seems like a long time ago it gives you an idea how much water has flowed under the bridge since. Not least in the Leinster line-up, on and off the field.

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This is a huge day for newcomers Leo Cullen and Girvan Dempsey, and regardless of their lack of experience at this gig, the crowd will be expectant of great things based on the twin peaks of the prodigals, Isa Nacewa and Johnny Sexton. If they were lining up alongside Luke Fitzgerald and Ben Te'o you'd imagine the crowd would be happier still, but despite rays of hope from the Leinster camp earlier in the week, that pair are absent, and consequently, Leinster will be short on power.

Wasps are not wanting on that front, especially in the back row where the 35-year-old Wallaby George Smith has made a positive impact. As has Kiwi Charles Piutau at fullback. Their coach Dai Young is already making noises that they're in this competition to learn, but more likely they're mad keen for revenge for last year's instalments at this stage of the competition, and from which Leinster came out on top with a win at home and a draw at the Ricoh.

Referee Mathieu Raynal will probably find it feisty enough, so the Frenchman will be glad the rain is due to hold off. He will have enough on his hands.

Leinster: I Nacewa (capt); Z Kirchner, F McFadden, N Reid, D Kearney; J Sexton, E Reddan; J McGrath, R Strauss, M Ross, D Toner, M McCarthy, J Murphy, J Heaslip, S O'Brien. Replacements: S Cronin, C Healy, T Furlong, H Triggs, J Conan; L McGrath, I Madigan, G Ringrose.

Wasps: C Piutau; C Wade, E Daly, B Jacobs, F Halai; R Jackson, J Simpson; M Mullan (capt), C Festuccia, J Cooper-Wooley, J Launchbury, B Davies, S Jones, N Hughes, G Smith. Replacements: A Johnson, S McIntyre, P Swainston, J Gaskell, G Thompson, D Robson, A Lozowski, S Tagicakibau.

Referee: M Raynal (France).BT Sport 1.0

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